Henrik Stenson Fancied In BMW International Open
A top quality field has assembled in Germany this week, for the BMW International Open, which takes place at the well established Golf Club Gut Larchenhof, Cologne. Although this course has only hosted this event on one other occasion in 2012, this venue has played host to the Linde German Masters from 1998 to 2005, and the Mercedes-Benz Championship from 2007 to 2009. The Jack Nicklaus designed 7,228yd Par 72 layout is a flat exposed track, and is a decent test, particularly in windy conditions. In keeping with many of the great mans golf designs, much emphasis is placed on rewarding quality approach shots, but a main feature of the 2012 renewal was how the fairways had narrowed, and how penal the rough was, so it will be interesting to see if the course set up, and if it is as stern as test this year. Water hazards are also plentiful here, featuring on nine holes. Bright, showery conditions with only light winds are forecast for the tournament.
The top draw this week is obviously Martin Kaymer, who comes here fresh off his breathtaking runaway success in the US Open at Pinehurst. His win can be best described as the type of demolition job Tiger Woods used to inflict on his fellow players in his heyday, it was that impressive!. It would be churlish of me to ignore his obvious claims this week, but the German does not have a great record around here, and the media scrum around him may be also prove to be a distraction. Just enough negatives to put me off this week.
My main fancy is Henrik Stenson, who hit peak form around this time last year, and with recent form stats of 5-7-5 and a Tied 4th at Pinehurst, there is every indication the Swede is about to enter the winners circle again. He has good previous course form here, including a Tied 2nd in 2005 and a Tied 6th in 2012, and if his sometimes cold putter can get warm, he must have every chance of another Tour victory.
Another fancy is Thomas Bjorn, who missed the US Open, with a neck and shoulder injury, but will at least be freshened up both mentally and physically for this important stretch of the season. He has a great record playing in Germany, having won this event in both 2000 and 2002 in Munich , but also boasts plenty of solid form around this track, with a Tied 5th in 2000, Tied 4th in 2007, and Tied 8th in 2012. Despite his meltdown at Wentworth , the Great Dane continues in really solid form, and with a potential Ryder Cup spot still up for grabs, I expect a bold show from the grisly veteran.
At a bigger price, I like the chance of the in form Chris Wood to go well this week. The lanky Bristol golfer, who shed his maiden tag with a spectacular victory in Abu Dhabi last year, finished a highly credible Tied 8th in Ireland last week, backing up a Tied 5th place finish in Singapore, a Tied 7th place finish in the Open de Espana, and a solid Tied 21st finish at Wentworth. This layout seems to suit his eye, having finished Tied 3rd in 2012, and Tied 12th in 2009, so at decent odds he represents good each way value.
Of the others the enigmatic Sergio Garcia has to be considered, particularly as he has winning form at this venue, but he seemed to throw away another gilt edged opportunity in the Travelers Championship last week.